Monday, October 22, 2012

More Chilies! Open-faced chicken chili sandwiches

We are getting some really beautiful produce from our farm share this fall. I was originally feeling overwhelmed, honestly, by the number of peppers, but I am now feeling inspired. Tonight I needed to get dinner together quickly, and chilies played a central part. Chile peppers are cholesterol free, low in sodium and calories, rich in Vitamins A and C, and a good source of folic acid, potassium and Vitamin E. They are also delicious. And although they have a reputation for being hot, the ones we've gotten this week are mild and flavorful. This recipe also uses some of the green tomatoes we received. I recently realized how good they are grilled, and the texture and flavor pay a key part in the following recipe.
I use a chicken breast in this, because it's what I had in the house. But this would also be good with pork chops, fish fillets (really, really good, although I would leave off the cheese), hamburger patties, veggie burgers, or, really, nearly any protein you like with bread.

I lost a little of the cheese to the pan I covered it with - but look at those chilies!
This meal is very simple, but you're going to have several elements going at once. You'll want to pre-heat a frying pan on the stove top. And you're also going to want either a stove-top grill (which is what I used) or a broiler pan in the oven. You could also do this on the oven on a cookie sheet. It's EASY,

Green Chili Chicken Melts
One green tomato (Optional)
One half mild white or yellow onion, sliced
4 mild green chilies, medium sized, sliced into rings
4 chicken breasts
4 slices of bread
4 slices of cheese (provolone or Monterrey jack would be good....)
4 TBSP mayo
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil

Okay - we're going to have a few elements going at once here. But the whole process is about 15 minutes once you have the veggies sliced.
Drizzle olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Once it's warm (sizzles if you drip a little water) add the peppers and onions, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally, over medium low heat,  as you complete the next steps. Just keep an eye. You want them to soften, and take on a little color, but you don't want them to brown or get too burned or crispy. Just give 'em a stir every minute or two.
Rub a little olive oil on the chicken, and sprinkle with salt a pepper. Place on the grill pan, or the broiler pan.
Drizzle both sides of tomatoes with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the tomato slices to the pan.  Broil or grill  for 2 - 3 minutes, and flip the tomatoes ONLY. Broil  or grill another 2 - 3 minutes and remove the tomatoes. (Look at 'em. They should be lightly browned and soft. If not, give them a few more minutes.
After 5 - 7 minutes cooking time, the chicken will be ready to flip, and the tomatoes will be done. Flip the chicken, and use a spatula to remove the tomatoes to a plate or cutting board for assembly.
While the chicken and tomatoes are cooking, mix together the mayo, mustard and Worcestershire together in a small bowl, and set aside.
Remember to give the chilies a stir during this time - every few minutes - over low heat.
When the tomatoes are done, add the slices of bread to the pan. The bread will also need just 2 - 3 minutes per side. If you're using a grill you'll get some nice grill marks, and if you're broiling, you'll get a light brown toast. You just want to warm the bread, and give it a very light toasting.
The chicken and bread should be done about the same time. But don't stress if they aren't. Remove the toast, and set aside. The chicken should cook for 5 - 7 minutes per side. When it's thouroughly cooked, top each piece with 1/4 the chili and onion mixture, and top that with cheese. If you're using a grill, you'l want to cover the chicken to help the cheese melt. (Honestly? I flip the pan I just used upside down and cover the chicken with that, to help melt the cheese. The residual heat from the pan helps it along and the depth of the pan gives it some room.)
While the cheese melts, spread a tablespoon of the mayo mixture on each slide of bread, and top with the grilled tomatoes.
Add the chicken breast.
Eat wtih a knife and fork OR top with a second piece of toasted bread. (Adjust recipe to 8 pieces in that case, and make sure and grill all 8!)
Does it sound complicated? It's really not. You're just cooking a chicken breast and topping it with some sauteed chili peppers and cheese. That's it. Fast and easy. Really!
And yum!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cabrito Chili with Cornbread Topping

It's finally cooling off here in Austin. Well, some days. And some days are not. We had a little cold spell a week or so ago, and I decided to make chili. Chili, it turns out, was a fairly elegant solution to the question, "What does one do when one receives goat stew meat in ones meat share?" Goat chili, cooked low and slow, is delicious. But this recipe would work with any stew meat, really.
One of my favorite chili recipes is from Alton Brown, and involves using a jar of salsa. As much as I enjoy this recipe, I decided to play with it and see if I could adapt it to use up some of the beautiful peppers we've been getting in our farm share. And the final kick? I also had a hankering for a cornbread topping. I cooked the chili in a dutch over, made a batch of cornbread and layered it on top, and baked it in the over. Soooo good!
This isn't a soupy chili - this is meant to be more like a casserole - a ramped up version of something you might find at a potluck. The chili is very thick, and the peppers give a lot of texture and flavor to the stew.
The basic idea here is making a pepper heavy salsa out of fresh vegetables.

For the pepper "salsa":
1 cup diced fresh peppers  (About 3 - 4 medium/large peppers and a few small, too. These can be Anaheim, lipstick, green, red, or whatever you have on hand. Mild peppers will make a mild chili. Hot peppers will make a hot and spicy chili. Mix and match! Use several mild to give you the volume you need, then add a few small, hot ones for some spice!)
1 onion
2 - 3 cloves of garlic
1 can stewed tomatoes, or 2 - 3 fresh tomatoes
Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, and process until finely ground to a salsa-like texture.

For the chili:
2 - 3 TBSP Canola Oil or Olive Oil
1/2 cup cornmeal
3  TBSP Chili Powder (or to taste)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
(All of the seasoning can be adjusted to taste)
2 lb stew meat (goat, beef, bison, pork, whatever! I often combine 2 or 3)
1 bottle beer (try and use something dark and flavorful, but not too complex. Something you'd drink with a burger....)
2 - 3 cups beef broth, or any broth on hand

Heat the oil in a dutch oven. Add the stew meat in batches, evenly browning the meat. (Add just enough meat per batch to cover the bottom of the pan, and get it just a bit brown on each side. Remove the meat as it browns and process the rest in batches.)
When all the meat is browned, remove it all from the dutch over, and add the pepper mixture, and the bottle of beer, and "deglaze" the pan - scrape the tasty bits of brown meat and flavor from the bottom. Add the cornmeal, the salsa you made, the spices, and the meat. Add enough broth to cover all the meat, plus an inch or two. Place the lid on the dutch oven and place the dish in a 325 degree oven for 3 - 4 hours. The slow even heat will cook the goat (or any meat you use) to a nice, tender braise.
When the chili is done, or close to done, mix up your favorite cornbread recipe. (You don't need to take the chili out of the oven for this, but don't forget to reset the oven temp to match your cornbread recipe!)
Remove the chili from the oven and spread the cornbread batter evenly over the top. If you want, add a layer of grated cheddar to the top! Bake according to the cornbread recipe - no lid.